On This Day: THE QUEEN MARY/CURACOA CRASH (Oct 2nd, 1942)
October 2, 2017
Bigger than the Titanic, the Queen Mary was one of the most famous ocean liners of its time. During WWII, she entered active duty as a troop transport ship. On October 2, 1942, as she rounded the coast of Ireland, she was joined by six destroyers and HMS Curacoa as an escort. The zigzag pattern of the destroyers caused heavy wakes and forced all eight ships to make constant minor course corrections.
Eventually these corrections, combined with the superior speed of the Queen Mary, proved disastrous. The Queen Mary first nudged the Curacoa’s stern and then ploughed right through it, cutting the smaller ship in half. 338 of the 429 people onboard the Curacoa drowned as the Queen Mary continued on, under orders not to stop for any reason. A court of inquiry later placed the blame mostly on the Curacoa, although the lookout for the Queen Mary was also faulted.